The Neil Young Rave: A Film, Two Albums and Incarnations For Everyone
This past year has sure been a wonderful time to be a Neil Young fan.
The new album, "Living With War", was just released last month and it's great in all its raging - and rockin' - glory. However, I actually want to talk about an earlier period in Neil's career. Last summer and fall to be precise. That's when the country/folk album "Prairie Wind" was released and it's also when the movie "Neil Young: Heart Of Gold" was filmed.
"Prairie Wind", the fourth in Neil's on-going series of Nashville-recorded classic albums (the first three being 1972's "Harvest", 1978's "Comes A Time" and 1992's "Harvest Moon"), is probably his most personal album to date, dealing, as it does, with childhood memories of life growing up in Manitoba, his daughter leaving home and, most significantly, the death of his father earlier in the year.
And the film, well, it captures Neil and his band playing the entire "Prairie Wind" album to an audience in Nashville, before it had ever been released. It also includes performances of a few of his well-known older songs as well, and some interviews too.
Hopefully you have both new albums already, but, either way, I'm actually really just here to rave about the film, not the albums. The simple fact is that all Neil Young fans (or, maybe I should say, all real music fans) out there should go out, right now, and rent "Heart Of Gold" on DVD. I rented it last night and absolutely loved it.
Two Great Talents
The film's directed by Jonathan Demme and if you know who he is then you know he makes great movies. Besides making the classic Talking Heads concert film "Stop Making Sense", all the way back in 1984, he's also responsible for such films as "Something Wild", "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia".
Demme doing a film on Neil may not be quite as incredible as Scorsese doing that film, "No Direction Home", on Bob Dylan last year, but it's still quite the pairing of two incredible talents. And, to be honest, "Heart Of Gold" isn't anywhere near as fascinating as "No Direction Home", but it's still a wonderful piece of work; especially for all those who, like myself, consider Neil to be one of the all-time greats.
One piece of advice: Don't just watch the first disc, which is the film that was released in theaters earlier this year, make sure to watch the entire second disc of special features as well. The movie is beautiful, but in some ways the extra features are more interesting. You get long interviews with Neil and much more. And whatever you do don't miss the final feature on the second disc, which is Neil on The Johnny Cash Show way back in 1971 singing "The Needle and The Damage Done". Classic!
One other thing, I'd recommend having the English subtitles on in order to have all the lyrics streaming by on the screen right as he's singing them. Unless, that is, you already know all the words to all the new songs.
So, a concert in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium - the original site of the Grand Old Opry - with Emmylou Harris singing backup, Neil playing Hank Williams' old guitar, dozens of great musicians and singers on stage, and some truly fantastic music. What more could you ask for?
Watching this film or listening to "Prairie Wind" you'd never know that this was the same guy who wrote the 9-minute grungy guitar workout "Down By The River" or the classic rock 'n' roll cuts "Ohio", "Cortez The Killer", "Powderfinger" and "Rockin' In The Free World". But that's because this is country-folk-rock Neil time... and it must not be forgotten that country-folk-rock Neil is one of the great Neil incarnations.
Other Neil incarnations: Hippy Neil; CSNY Neil; New Wave Neil; Really Bad 80's Neil; and more. There's a Neil for all seasons and all tastes. You've just gotta love Neil! Though I am, however, still waiting for a refund, or at least an apology, for all those Really Bad Neil albums I spent my hard-earned money on back in the 80s.
A Double Dose
So, there you have it, for a brilliant dose of country-folk-rock Neil pick up the DVD of the new film and then, if you haven't already, pick up the "Prairie Wind" CD.
And then for a dose of full-on rockin' Neil get yourself the brand new "Living With War" CD.
That way you'll have both the yin and yang, the country-folk and the grungy rockin' Neils... and then your day, week, month and, even, whole year shall be complete. Well, at least until Neil comes out with something new in a few months from now.
Long live Neil!!
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Wednesday, June 14th, 2006
To read my piece on Bob, Neil and Joni click here: Talkin' Prairie Triangle of Inspiration (A.K.A. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Make Their Great Escape)
And to read what Dylan has to say about Neil click here: The Bob On Neil
To read my two - yes two - rave reviews of Tell Tale Signs click here: Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement
And if you like Neil, Bob and Joni then you're probably going to like this guy as well: The Todd Snider "Peace Queer" Rave
And for more on Bob Dylan click here: The Bob (as in Dylan)
Or for more on other artists and albums click here: Music Homepage
Or here: Music: Album and Concert Raves